A/N: Thanks to everyone who has reviewed so far. It really does help with the writer's block!
Wine and Cheap Perfume
Chapter Four – Friend in Me
Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep…
When Kurt wakes the next morning, his body is aching and raw, contorted into an uncomfortable arch that only seems to accentuate the dull pain he feels. He shifts slightly, hissing in pain as the sudden movement sends a sharp pain through one of his legs. Gritting his teeth, Kurt moves again, and again, gradually pulling himself upright into a sitting position on the bed. The pale skin of his chest and arms shines dully in the flaccid light streaming in from one murky window, the planes of his body covered in shocking bruises and small cuts. Grimacing, Kurt raises a hand to one of the lacerations on his chest, taking in the discoloured skin with a wince. It's enough to put him out of work for a few days, and Kurt doesn't think he charged enough last night to afford that.
A room is still a room, even if there's nothing there but gloom…
With his body stretched slightly and already feeling more like his own, Kurt stumbles blindly out of bed, taking relative care to avoid the sharp pieces of shattered glass that always seem to mar his floor nowadays. The flat is so small, it only takes him a few moments before he is in the area he calls a kitchen; in reality, it consists of one work surface, and a tap from which clear water doesn't always flow. Next to the tap, lying on its side on the dusky floor lays a nearly empty bottle of vodka, the glass dirty from age. Sighing, Kurt bends down to pick it up, wincing a little at the shooting pains in the back of his thighs. Kurt doesn't even have to look to know that they're a mess.
One hand grasps the bottle firmly; pulling it up off the floor and towards Kurt's waiting mouth. It takes a few tries before the rusty, sticky cap is pulled off and the sickly sweet scent of spirits hits the air. Bringing the bottle up to his lips, Kurt tips his head back as far as he can, drinking down the last few drops and feeling a flush of heat as the alcohol hits his throat. There is not enough liquid, not enough by half, it's gone too soon and Kurt is left to discard the empty bottle, throwing it haphazardly into the sink where the glass cracks slightly, but doesn't shatter.
There's a pounding in my head…
Stumbling again, Kurt moves to the solitary cupboard in his flat, looking through it for something to eat, to take the edge off the alcohol. It's also where he keeps his money and although Kurt doesn't find any food, there's a few worn twenty's curled up at the bottom, their edges yellowing and fraying. Allowing himself a wry smile, Kurt reaches down and strokes them reverently, before peeling one off and laying the others back down carefully.
The money looks pitiful in his clenched fist, the amount so little, barely enough for today's grocery shopping. But Kurt knows how to make money stretch and how to – if the occasion arises – slip a little extra food into the worn pockets of his fraying coat. It might not be right, and hell, only a few years ago, Kurt would never have considered it. But desperate times and all that… he doesn't have a choice. Smiling grimly, Kurt wanders aimlessly into the area he uses for sleeping; reaching one hand into the small bundle of cloth he keeps next to his mattress. Inside it is what he calls his "day clothes" – clothes that don't try to be provocative, clothes that allow him to blend in and escape the notice of everyone who might try to look for him. Kurt doubts there are many anymore, but still – it doesn't hurt to be careful.
From the bundle, Kurt pulls out a pair of worn and tattered jeans, the knees ripped open and the cuffs fraying where Kurt has tried to hem them a few times too many. A tee-shirt, one that Kurt picked up in a charity shop for a few pounds. It's not his usual style – bright red with some sort of sport's logo on the front, loose and decidedly masculine – but he doesn't really have an extensive wardrobe to choose from anymore, so he pulls it over his head. He winces a little at the stretch and pull of his abused muscles.
When he's finally, laboriously dressed, he runs a quick hand through his unkempt hair and checks his twenty dollar note is still held tightly in one hand. With one last, sweeping look around his pitiful excuse for a home, Kurt grabs his keys and pushes open the door, wincing at the dull whine of the rusty hinges as they are forced to move. What he sees stops him in his tracks. There is a man curled up asleep right in front of his door, legs pulled up protectively to his chest and face tucked into his shoulder.
For a moment, Kurt panics, his body flushing cold with horror at the idea of who this man could be, a trick gone wrong or an obsessive client taking a step too far. Kurt is just about to inch back inside slowly and call the police – not that that would do much good, they have better things to do than chase around town after a whore like him – when the man shifts a little, his face turning outwards, the features clear to see for the first time.
Seeing Blaine again, so soon after their last, horrifying encounter is almost enough to make Kurt run away again. But then he remembers; he has nowhere to go, no one to turn to and it's not like Blaine doesn't know where he lives anyway. He takes a second to study the boy in front of him. Blaine is just as he remembers; ridiculous triangular eyebrows, spidery eyelashes and slightly pouty pink lips which he wets occasionally with a subconscious sweep of his tongue. But something has changed in Blaine's face since they were teenagers; a new awareness, lines that weren't there before, and, Kurt thinks with a fond smile, the slight dusting of stubble across the boy's lower jaw.
It's only just out of reach…
For a second, one stupid, foolish, impulsive second, Kurt reaches out a hand; desire to touch over riding his instinct to shy away. One hand buries itself in Blaine's curly hair, longer than when they were boys and worn loose, free of the gellish confines that once held it so rigidly in place. Kurt's other hand inches lower, stroking lightly over the curve of Blaine's jaw, feeling the rough stubble under his fingertips and smiling ever so slightly at the sensation. Of all the tricks he's been with over the years, Kurt's never had the urge to touch like this, to just run his hands over somebody not to give them pleasure, or make them come, or even to speed up an unpleasant experience; but just for the joy of being close to someone.
His eyes flutter shut unconsciously, his body being taken over just by sense. For once, the building around him is quiet, the air not rent with the sounds of babies crying, women cowering or dogs barking. For once, it is still and peaceful, and for just one second, Kurt feels a sense of peace that he hasn't done in years.
Of course, that peace couldn't last. Kurt's eyes snap open, locking onto the hazel one's below him. The moment freezes again, but this time all Kurt is struck with is how compromising this must look: Blaine spread out under him, his hands all over his face. Blushing, he snatches back his hands, cradling them possessively to his chest. He and Blaine stare at each other in mutual silence, the lack of sound no longer freeing but oppressive. Kurt thinks desperately for something to say, but everything sounds stupid, childish, immature. Nothing can begin to describe the emotions that he feels, being so close to Blaine again after so long.
Slowly, so slowly that Kurt feels he is going to die if Blaine doesn't hurry up, Blaine reaches out a hand and places it on Kurt's collarbone, over a large and particularly nasty bruise he obtained the night before. Something about the gentleness of the gesture, the pity in Blaine's eyes jolts Kurt back to the present. They aren't teenagers anymore; Kurt is a common whore, and Blaine is nothing to him. Nothing. The realisation causes him to flinch back, Blaine's hand falling from his skin. Kurt feels cold where he isn't being touched anymore, and he can see Blaine's eyes darken with something Kurt has never seen there before.
It's not unusual, to be mad with anyone…
"You left." It's quiet in the eerie silence of the hallway, a statement, not accusing in any way. Blaine's tone is soft and calm, but Kurt feels his anger rising anyway, threading its way through his veins until he stands suddenly, back against his door. He doesn't want Blaine anywhere near him, he doesn't want this shadow of his past hanging around for a second longer. He makes as though to turn away, to get back into his flat and lock the memory of Blaine Anderson away forever, but before he can move, Blaine's hand grasps his wrist, tearing at the self-inflicted wounds there. Kurt howls in rage and pain, the awful sound slashing the air around them but still Blaine doesn't step back.
"Get off of me," Kurt growls from low in his throat, his body jerking as he tries to shake Blaine loose. Blaine won't move, though, clinging to Kurt like an annoying child might cling to its mother.
"Why? So you can disappear again?" Blaine snaps back, his tone frigid and cold. His hand on Kurt's wrist is like a vice, the heat of it conflicting with the pain that Kurt feels at Blaine's presence. Because this is too close, too much. Kurt can feel the desperation in him rising, the fervent need to drink or cut or fuck; anything to take away from the dull pain in his chest that is threatening to overwhelm him.
"That's not fair." Kurt mutters, finally jerking his wrist away. He can feel where some of the cuts have torn open, the blood seeping into his shirt sleeves grotesquely. He ignores it, focusing on the boy – man – in front of him, chest heaving erratically and eyes wider than Kurt has ever seen them before.
"Not fair? Damn it Kurt, we could have helped! We wanted to help. You didn't have to leave." Blaine's voice breaks slightly towards the end, his emotions beginning to overwhelm him. He can see Kurt's eyes soften slightly, the fight also going out of his frame. For the first time, Blaine notices how tired and run down Kurt looks. The oversized shirt Kurt is wearing would have swamped his figure even when Blaine first met him, but Blaine's willing to bet that the other boy's body is practically skeletal now. When he speaks, Kurt's voice is low and soft, a world away from the fire and anger it had held mere moments before.
"Yes, I did. And I think you should leave now." Blaine wants to argues, wants to pin the other boy to the wall and keep talking to him until he sees reason. But something in the tone of voice he uses, something about the dejected slump of Kurt's shoulders stops him. Instead, Blaine smiles softly, and nods.
"Fine. But I'm coming back again." When Kurt opens his mouth, as though to protest, Blaine just smiles again wryly and turns to leave, "I lost you once, Kurt. I'm not doing it again." As Blaine rounds the corner and makes it out on to the street, Kurt slumps back against the wall, slides to the ground and groans lowly.